Quantum Leap

Our pharma-led funding program for drug discovery research

Please contact jpaterson@cqdm.org for more information.

Summary of the pharma-led funding program for drug discovery research
CQDM’s Quantum Leap pharma-led funding program for drug discovery research helps SMEs or Canadian universities achieve innovative translational biopharmaceutical research projects. Projects selected as part of the Quantum Leap program focus on developing cutting-edge technologies with the potential to significantly advance the R&D activities of CQDM’s pharmaceutical members. Quantum Leap projects are executed in close collaboration and with the expert support and funds of pharmaceutical members.

The enabling technologies, innovative platforms and/or innovative therapies derived from the Quantum Leap pharma-led funding program for drug discovery research are selected for their potential to significantly improve, facilitate and/or accelerate the drug discovery process and the development of safer and more effective drugs. The technologies of interest can be at any stage of the drug development process and involve a wide range of therapeutic indications.

Projects are associated with specific deliverables and must be ready for use by CQDM pharmaceutical members upon completion. For scientists, the funded research opens new collaboration opportunities with world-class stakeholders in the industry.

Eligibility criteria of the pharma-led funding program for drug discovery research
The Quantum Leap pharma-led funding program for drug discovery research is open to all SMEs and public research institutions in Canada.

Because budget structures can vary depending on each project, you must contact CQDM to confirm eligibility before applying (refer to the contact information in section: Application process).

Funding of the pharma-led funding program for drug discovery research



Minimum 1 year, maximum 3 years

Funding details

CQDM will review applications for its pharma-led funding program for drug discovery research subject to the following:

  • Requested funds must range from $500,000 to $1,200,000. Exceptionally, CQDM may consider applications exceeding the maximum, if appropriate.
  • CQDM pharmaceutical members must have pledged at least one third (1/3) of the funds required to support the project.
  • Applicants are responsible for raising matched funding for the project. When possible, CQDM may offer support to applicants.
  • CQDM may call on a number of national and international partner organizations potentially interested in co-financing certain projects. For example, preliminary discussions with CQDM could help maximize contributions from various partners toward launching a drug discovery research project (see below for details on international collaborations).
  • Applicants with a secured financial commitment from the industry or from a private, semi-private and public organization (either for-profit or non-profit) could be advantaged.
  • The funding may consist in a grant or an investment.
  • A detailed breakdown of requested funding must be provided and will be carefully examined by CQDM.
  • Applicants who wish to apply for Mitacs funding (available to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows involved in a CQDM project) must fill out the appropriate Mitacs section on the CQDM application form.
Eligible costs of the pharma-led funding program for drug discovery research


  • Salary and benefits of research personnel required to execute the project (technical/professional assistants, post-doctoral fellows, and students).
  • Material and laboratory supplies including services provided by third-party suppliers required to execute the project.

Non-eligible costs:

  • Equipment or facilities (purchase or rental).
  • Wages of the principal investigator (PI) and co-investigators from universities and their affiliated research centers.

Application process of the pharma-led funding program for drug discovery research

Call for proposals are open year-round for Quantum Leap projects.
The deadline to participate in the next selection round is: August 29, 2024. Contact Jesse Paterson for more information at jpaterson@cqdm.org

Please note that CQDM’s pharma-led funding program for drug discovery research involves the close collaboration of applicants and the biopharmaceutical research consortium team. Accordingly, team members may request information before and after the application has been submitted.

Only applicants whose submission has made the short list will be invited to submit a revised application, if required, including any additional information required and addressing comments, concerns and questions issued by the interested pharmaceutical members and/or CQDM’s Scientific Advisory Board.

Selection criteria and selection process of the pharma-led funding program for drug discovery research


External experts will review projects based on the following criteria:

  • Potential impact on drug research
    Potential for disruptive change and practical use in drug R&D to address important unmet needs of CQDM pharmaceutical members.
  • Scientific excellence
    Novelty and significance of the proposed research; quality of the experimental plan.
  • Feasibility
    Current state of development of the technology; preliminary data; specific deliverables and milestones of the research plan and Gantt chart; and sound management of the research team and project.
  • Positioning and competitive edge
    Innovative nature of the proposed technology; identification of the most relevant competing technologies (existing or in development) pursuing the same goal as the proposed project (by a similar or different approach); competitive edge of the proposed technology compared to international competitors; and disruptive potential of the project for the biopharmaceutical industry.
  • Commercial potential
    Ability to address biopharmaceutical needs; soundness of the development and technology maturation plan with a clear path for deployment to end users, including key milestones (proof of concept, scale-up, industrial regulations, deployment strategy, etc.), funds required for each phase and expected time-to-market.
  • Quality of the business plan
    If applicable (for SMEs).
  • Economic benefits
    Potential economic benefits for all stakeholders, including their alignment with the corporate objectives of SMEs to afford them a competitive edge in the target market.
  • Research team (principal investigator and co-investigators)
    Relevance and quality of the team; complementarity and synergy between partners involved in the project.
Evaluation process of the pharma-led funding program for drug discovery research


  1. Preselection based on the strong interest of at least one CQDM industrial member upon review of applications.
  2. Applicants who receive an expression of interest from at least one CQDM industrial member will be invited to submit, if required, a revised application further to the requirements of the interested pharmaceutical members and/or CQDM’s Scientific Advisory Board.

The application undergoes the following steps when at least one CQDM pharmaceutical member expresses interest:

  1. External and independent scientific evaluation as per the evaluation criteria described above.
  2. CQDM will evaluate non-scientific aspects of the project that could jeopardize its successful achievement, such as intellectual property, potential ethical issues, patient recruitment challenges (if applicable), business stakes (for private companies), project management plans and any other potential risk.
  3. Final evaluation by CQDM’s Scientific Advisory Board and recommendations to CQDM’s Board of Directors.

Final selection by CQDM’s Board of Directors.

Licensing policy of the pharma-led funding program for drug discovery research


Successful applicants will be required to sign a research agreement with CQDM within 3 months upon funding confirmation. The research agreement includes specific project milestones, timelines (Gantt chart) and deliverables, and must be signed by all stakeholders.

The research agreement will include a section on intellectual property and licensing policy based on these general principles:

  • As per CQDM’s policy, researchers retain intellectual property rights, in compliance with the policies of research institutions where the project is executed.
  • In most cases, participating CQDM industrial members will be granted a non-exclusive license for R&D purposes only. However, terms may vary based on the nature of the project and partners involved.

The main terms and conditions of the end user license will be negotiated before launching the project and will take into account existing intellectual property as well as the individual contribution of each stakeholder.

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